Day: May 8, 2017

TILLER (Unknown wreck)

Toronto Area most requested dive on Scubaboard for many years.
Ship Type: Two masted wooden schooner
Lifespan: Built best estimates early 1800s, Sunk: unknown?
Length: 94ft
Depths: 110ft
Location: 6km north of Port Dalhousie, Lake Ontario, Ontario
GPS N43.14.734 W070.17.064
The “Tiller” wreck, was thought to be the “Henry Clay” for some time until it was disproved, but is simply known as the “Tiller” because of the lack of a ship’s wheel as the ship was steered by a large wooden tiller at the stern of the vessel. As not much is know about the wreck, details of it’s origins and sinking are currently unknown. It does resemble work from ships built in the early 1800s, however, that is the extent of what we know.

Tiller wreck

The Tiller wreck was discovered in 1991 by Jim Garrington. A few years later a team of four divers embarked on a research project on the wreck.

Little is known about the wreck, which lies six miles off Port Dalhousie.

It is believed the wreck could be that of the Henry Clay, which went down in a strong gale in 1931 near the mouth of the Welland Canal. The team has not been able to find any conclusive evidence the wreck is that of the Henry Clay.



Str. “S. R. Kirby” – Composite Bulk Freighter, built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, in Wyandotte, Michigan, as hull No. 100 in 1890. The “S. R. Kirby” was named after the father of Frank E. Kirby who also happened to be the incorporator and President of the Detroit Dry Dock Company. She was the largest “composite” vessel ever constructed on the Great Lakes, at nearly 300 feet long. Frank and his brother, Fitzhugh A. Kirby, had perfected (though they had not invented) the composite design in the 1880’s for this shipbuilding firm. By building the frames (“ribs” to the layman) of iron they got the strength of a metal vessel, but as she was sheathed in white oak they were able to also achieve great cost savings in both her design and in future repairs. Built for the North Western Transportation Co., of Detroit, she spent many years hauling coal, iron ore, and grain to Lake Erie ports. On May 8th, 1916 while heavily loaded with ore on Lake Superior, the “Kirby” went down with all but two of her crew of 22 men. Her wreck is still sought after by divers and the exact reason for her sinking remains a mystery.